Supreme Court won't hear Bald Knob cross challenge

Thursday, January 24, 2013
Justin Kuhnert, left, and Brett Giacomo install a light pole Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 for the Bald Knob Cross at Alto Pass, Ill. (Fred Lynch)

Editor's note: The following story has been edited to clarify the grant amount received for the restoration of the Bald Knob Cross of Peace.

ALTO PASS, Ill. -- The U.S. Supreme Court has quietly -- but absolutely -- rejected an atheist's legal fight with Illinois officials about the use of state funds to refurbish a cross that has towered above rural Alto Pass for five decades.

The high court Tuesday turned back without comment a case filed in 2010 by Chicago-area man Rob Sherman. An atheist, Sherman for two years has argued in lower courts that a $20,000 grant violated separation of church and state rules. Lower courts maintained that Sherman lacked standing. Sherman said the grant was a legislative earmark, not a discretionary allocation from the executive branch.

Sherman's website included a statement that called the nation's court system a "complete joke," adding that the decision amounts to a "fraud against the taxpayers of this country."

The $20,000 grant to fundraising group Friends of the Cross came from a fund totaling $5 million in legislative earmarks representing many projects. The disbursement added to the group's $500,000 restoration of the Bald Knob Cross of Peace.

Pertinent address:

Alto Pass, Ill.

Map of pertinent addresses

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